Verbal Irony

Essay by Chicherina March 2004

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Irony is a strategy writers use to set contrast between what is supposed to be true and what is reality, just as in verbal irony, an author might say or write one thing and at the same time mean the complete opposite. In the story by Frank R. Stockton "The Lady, or the Tiger?" the author used verbal irony to help us realize the absurdity of the king's idea of judgment and the real intentions and ideas of other characters.

Several ironic statements are presented in the story. Sentence fragments such as "... did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?" include verbal irony. Regardless of the fact that you may assume it to be true, that the accused person indeed is given option, that he during his trial can open either door, that he can decide his own path, concluding that he does have the matter in his own hands, still, even though he is given choice, his choice does not fully depend on his deeds in life, nor does it depend on the crime that was done by him, it is a chance that the accused is supposed to take.

He cannot know what is hidden behind each of the doors (he only knows that behind one of the doors is a tiger, and behind the other is the lady.). He may've not been in such situation at all if he really has had the alternative. Indeed, the king is forcing the accused to be judged this way. May be if the king may've not been the judge in this matter, accused will rather prefer to be released, but he cannot decide that for himself. Furthermore, statement "... crime was punished or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an...